Father claims ‘hitman’ son is innocent
By Malik Siraj Akbar
Tightly suited in a blue jacket with a muddled Sindhi cap and a long white beard, seventy-year old Ali Dost Mohammad Shai is out to seek justice for his son, Hafiz Mohammad Usman alias Abbass, whom the Quetta police arrested and declared on Thursday as the “mastermind” of sectarian target killings, as he smells “a conspiracy of promotion for the policemen” linked to his son’s arrest and assertion of “fake charges” against him.
“Actually the police have been out to trace Usman Saifullah, a key operative of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi who is wanted in the murder of many Shia-Hazaras. Since the real culprit exercises overwhelming power and is hard for the police to immure, the government has arrested my son, with the same name held by the fugitive Sunni leader, although my children often do not have bread to eat for three or four days,” he stated.
According to him, police had randomly picked up dozens of people having the name “Usman” [in relation to Usman Saifullah Kurd of Laskar-e-Jhangvi] from the Baloch-populated Sariab.
Ali Dost, the father of twelve children, told this writer in an interview on Friday that Usman is his eldest son and used to work at a showroom in Quetta city. As a rickshaw driver, Ali Dost, who originally comes from Mastung district but has been living in Quetta for the past forty years, was unable to educate his children. He sent Usman to the neighboring Khair-ul-Madarish near Quetta’ Degree College. Usman completed the memorization of Quran at an early age and backed breads at the same religious school.
“Ours is a family that rejects extremist Islam. I forced Usman to leave the Madrassa and do some practical job in Bazaar to eek out a living. Hence, he worked as a waiter at different restaurants and was recently working at a showroom,” he said. He says if his son truly worked with underground terrorist organizations then the family would not live in absolute poverty and remain so vulnerable to raids by the police.
“I do not have the financial capability to hire a lawyer nor am I literate to pursue the matter to secure my son. I am certain that my son is being used as a tool to hide police’s inability to arrest the real actors of target killings and sectarian attacks in Quetta. Some officers will also take this as an opportunity to clinch promotions,” he said.
Usman got married one and half years ago. He had rented a new house near Podhgilli Chowk where he used to live with his wife. However, he regularly visited his parents’ home on Sariab Road near Government Degree College. According to his father, Usman was a practicing Muslim who daily recited the Quran. “But I can assure you he was not an extremist. He respected everyone irrespective of their sectarian affiliations,” he informed.
On 9 November, the police firstly raided the rented house located on Podhgili chowk at around 3:00pm. Later on, they raided his father’s house and beat up the younger brother of Usman.
“I objected over the personnel attired in plainclothes who entered our home without knocking the door. I did not know who they were and what they wanted. I was furious that they had entered the house where the female members of the house were also present. When I asked a few questions, they started beating me badly,” Inayatullah, 18, the younger brother of the alleged Lashkar-e-Jhangvi leader, told Daily Times.
The police, according to family accounts, arrested Usman when the latter was just returning home from the showroom. He was whisked away and the family remained completely clueless about his whereabouts for at least three days until the police produced him with a mask on his face in a press conference.
“I am glad my son showed victory before the cameras indicating that he was not guilty. I am sure he will be acquitted respectfully,” hopes Dost.
When asked about the recovery of a Kalashnikov by the police as a follow-up of the interrogation of Usman, Ali Dost said the police could not find a gun or any sharp item during its raid on his house. “Everyone is acquainted with the police culture in the country where the police unilaterally speaks against the accused. Having implicated my son in the murder of 24 people, the Quetta police are trying to mitigate public anger over the real killers who are roaming at large. No one can touch them because they are too powerful,” he said.
Officials in Quetta refused to comment on Ali Dost’s stance saying that Usman had been held in an unknown location for further investigation related to the ongoing wave of target killings in Quetta. They said comments in the media would amount to distract the investigation process.